RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Join Candice Cole and Roxie Bustamante as they explore Richmond and the surrounding areas for the best new restaurants and cheap eats the area has to offer.
Today, we try the only Hawaiian shop in downtown Richmond: Aloha Cafe and Catering.
Chef and co-owner Dawn Robinson grew up and raised her children in Hawaii. In 2014, she originally opened Aloha Cafe as a Hawaiian coffee shop in Midlothian, but three weeks in, there was a ‘freak flood’ forcing her to try and find a way to keep business booming.
“I was hoping with the coffee shop when we opened it, we could give people the opportunity to come into a place where you would feel the warmth of the aloha meaning the love,” Robinson said. “I think that is what’s happening people come in and experience the real aloha and that’s from Hawaii.”
Robinson opened up Aloha Cafe and Catering on Clay Street with business partner and retired U.S. Veteran Don Slate.
“It’s a part of what we do. When people come in we always greet them with an Aloha,” Robinson said. “Aloha means several things: it means hello it means goodbye and it also means I love you and I want them to feel all of that the first time they come in here. It’s very important.”
Robinson cooks up their first seasonal menu for us, which includes a variety of fresh, healthy and flavorful dishes.
“We are calling it our Fall/Winter menu we are doing a lot of different things,” Robinson said, as she takes us behind the counter and into the kitchen. “We are doing the kombucha vinegarette. We have some other items that we are bringing from some small businesses, because we can’t do it all ourselves, including a mini multi-grain croissant. We like healthy and we’re going to pair that with our spicy mango peppers, that we just made. I also did a pumpkin Lei Hee hummus, which is amazing. We are also going to do a vegan, dairy free, gluten free, roasted vegetable soup.”
Mary Richardson was one of the customers tasting items on the seasonal menu. She moved from Hawaii to Richmond and says she’s found her favorite spot back when it was just a coffee shop.
“You have ginger based stew and we cook with a lot of ginger,” Richardson said. “The way she’s brought it together reminds me of home and also has its own uniqueness.”
Customers said it’s not just the menu that will keep you going back for more.
“Family! That’s what it is. It feels like a family,” Regular customer Saul Ali said. “You get to see Dawn and Donny. They know me and they take care of me. it’s wholesome, it’s real Richmond.”
To find out more and try Aloha Cafe and Catering for yourself, CLICK HERE.
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